CAJE Responds to the Crisis

Posted on 10/13/2023 @ 06:00 AM

Tags: Adult Jewish Learning & Growth, Jewish Schools & Educational Services, Teen Education & Engagement, Miami Jewish Film Festival

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

In the midst of what is transpiring in our homeland of Israel, CAJE’s many departments are working diligently to help our schools and constituencies:

Day School Department:

  • Sending out resources for parents, teachers, and students of articles and online webinars from various organizations like OhelPrizmah, and the Jewish Education Project, to name a few.
  • Meeting with the Coalition of Miami Admissions Directors (CMAD). Audrey Bensoussan, CAJE’s Associate Director for School Markets, facilitated conversations between Broward, Miami-Dade, and South Palm Beach schools who have made the decision to enroll children from Israeli families moving to Florida temporarily to escape the war. The schools are not sure how long these families plan on staying but feel strongly that as a united community, this is one of the ways they can help. A few of the schools accepting these new Israeli families are doing so despite being at capacity and have made the decision to not charge tuition.
  • Connecting mental health professionals with our schools. CAJE runs a mental health network of over 15 school counselors and psychologists. Some schools have been asking for trained professionals to come in person and speak to parents and students on the current situation in Israel and how best to discuss such a difficult topic with young children. Audrey was able to connect professionals from JAFCO to one of our schools for just that purpose. In addition, Dr. Martin Karp, educator and former Miami-Dade School Board Member, has been in touch with the superintendent of Miami-Dade schools, who is offering counseling services from the public school system to any Jewish school that needs it.
  • For the future… we are working with Federation’s BeWell Miami’s coordinator, Shoshana Farbman, to determine ways to support not just parents and students, but teachers and mental health professionals as well. We are looking into setting up a Zoom drop in session for mutual caring and sharing.

Teen Department

Early Childhood and Congregational Education

  • Upon returning to work/school this past Monday, it became quickly apparent that the most important and urgent question plaguing the ECE and CE directors was - How are we supposed to talk to young children about the atrocities in Israel?
  • Yehudis Smith, Director of CAJE’s ECE and CE Department, immediately set to work finding resources for them. Through email as well as our director WhatsApp groups, she spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday sending them resources - articles, blog posts, and live webinars dedicated specifically to this challenge, and monitoring discussions on the chat amongst the directors - comforting each other and sharing opinions, insight, and resources.
  • The feedback from the directors was swift; they were so grateful and felt so supported in those first couple of days after the war broke out in Israel.
  • Here are some of the resources sent to them, which are great for parents too:


The Orchard's Webinar: Violence in Israel: A Gathering for ECE Leaders

Chai Lifeline Blog Post: Battlefronts: Tools for Countering the Horror in Eretz Yisrael

eJewishPhilanthropy's Article by Dr. Betsy Stone, PhD: Guidance for Talking to Our Kids

Adult Learning and Growth

  • Rabbi Laila Haas, CAJE’s Director of Adult Learning, was scheduled to conduct a Women of Wisdom session for Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy Department. Rather than cancel, they came together and turned the gathering into a sharing session and opportunity to grieve together.
  • For the future… the program that was developed will be repeated with CAJE Staff this afternoon and shared with other local agency directors and directors of central agencies around the country for them to utilize with their staffs.

Miami Jewish Film Festival

  • Beloved Israeli filmmaker and Miami Jewish Film Festival friend, Yahav Winner, was found dead in Kfar Aza on Wednesday night. Yahav was murdered by Hamas terrorists after bravely confronting them when they tried to invade his home during this Saturday's attack. Winner courageously stalled the attackers, allowing his wife and their one-month-old daughter to escape to safety. After hiding for 26 hours with no access to water or food, his wife and daughter were eventually evacuated by the Israeli Defense Forces and are now safe in a hospital.
  • In the wake of this tragedy, Igor Shteyrenberg, Executive Director of CAJE’s Miami Jewish Film Festival, is dedicated to celebrating Yahav's life and work. His latest short film, The Boy, which he completed just a few months ago, reveals a story that sheds light on life in Kfar Aza, the kibbutz of his upbringing, and numerous other Israeli villages along the border with Gaza.
  • To honor his memory and bravery, MJFF is hosting a special premiere of his film, The Boy, alongside an early film by Academy Award-winner Guy Nattiv (Golda) and MJFF 2023 Audience Award-winner Erez Tadmor (Matchmaking), Dear God, starring Lior Ashkenazi. This event will take place on Saturday, October 21 at 8pm at the Michael-Ann Russell JCC and is free and open to the public.

Israel is at war. Please donate to assist victims of terror and their families.


The Greater Miami Jewish Federation has established an Israel Emergency Fund following unprovoked, multi-front attacks on Israel that began on Saturday, October 7.

The Israel Emergency Fund is providing all of the following – and more:

  • Food and essential supplies for affected families, the elderly and the homebound
  • Cash for victims of terror
  • Emergency medical services and healthcare
  • Evacuation, housing and respite
  • Trauma relief and psychological support
  • Assistance for vulnerable populations, such as children, at-risk youth, and people with disabilities, and their caregivers
  • Preparation for medium- and long-term needs 


Federation is in close contact with our overseas partners. For assistance, you may also call 305.576.4000.